Activist-targeted Nestle SA is reportedly interested in buying Terra Chip maker Hain Celestial (HAIN) , which is also under siege by an insurgent investor.
According to Bloomberg, citing sources, the Switzerland-based company has held preliminary talks to acquire Hain, which is a natural and organic food company that in September reached a deal bringing on six dissident directors as part of an a pact with activist Engaged Capital's Glenn Welling. The activist investor also scored a seat on Hain's strategic review working group, which was set up to consider options such as a sale.
A sale is a serious possibility as Welling has driven M&A at a number of his target companies in the past. Boulder Brands, which makes Earth Balance and Evol Foods, was sold to Pinnacle Foods in 2015 shortly after Engaged became involved. Also, Engaged Capital helped negotiate an $85 million investment by Oaktree Capital last year at Canadian natural and organic foods processor SunOpta Inc. (STKL) .
In addition, Nestle is under pressure from Third Point LLC's Dan Loeb. On Nov. 15 it revealed that it was reorganizing its infant nutrition business, the latest in a series of strategy changes as Loeb watches.
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The Deal reported in September that Nestle could be among a group of large packaged goods companies that could be interested in buying Hain. In July, The Deal suggested that Hain, the last remaining independent publicly-traded pure-play natural and organic food company, could be sold.
Other traditional packaged food companies could be interested in Hain or some of its brands, as they seek to increase their exposure to organic foods, include PepsiCo. Inc. (PEP) , Campbell Soup Co. (CPB) , Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL) , General Mills Inc. (GIS) Krraft Heinz Co. (KHC) and Unilever NV (UN) . A Hain auction would follow France's Danone SA's $12.5 billion acquisition of organic foods company WhiteWave Foods Co.
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